Not every startup in Silicon Valley is focused on social networking or enterprise collaboration.
On Tuesday at the Launch Festival in San Francisco, several companies stood in front of an audience full of tech enthusiasts and declared that the future of food had arrived.
Then, to prove it, they fed their food to some test subjects.
Bitty Foods founder Megan Miller is betting big on insects. The company uses crickets to make cricket flour, which it uses for multiple types of food. Crickets are not only a great source of protein — they are also highly sustainable and eating them will help “cut out 18% of carbon emissions,” Miller said on stage. If this 2013 study by the United Nations is any indication, people should prepare themselves for the coming food invasion.
But still, they’re bugs. On stage, moderator Jason Calacanis ended up trying a cricket, and remarked that it tasted like a “salty cracker.”
He then brought a small girl up to the stage and gave her a cookie made of cricket flour. The girl didn’t say anything and kept on eating, which apparently meant she liked it. Unfortunately, the audience was not able to try any cricket food — or perhaps that was a relief to many.
Another startup, Beyond Meat, engineers meat scientifically. They “add in all the best things about meat…and avoid the bad things.”
How do they do this? Founder Ethan Brown — a lifelong vegan — states on the company’s website that they “take plant-based proteins and realign them to mimic the mouthfeel, appearance, and overall sensory experience of animal meats.”
They say that the sensory experience of their burgers lie somewhere between a McDonalds burger and a homemade burger.
The moderator, acting as a judge, took a bite of the meat, and it was obvious that he wasn’t too enthusiastic about what he had just tasted. He declared that the meat was “almost there” but nonetheless very believable as meat.
Soon after, two pit bulls were brought up on stage and given some of meat. They ended up devouring the meat in one bite and seemed to want more.
The demonstrations were a little silly, but the startups are dead serious about the sustainability of food in a world with a rapidly growing population, and these were probably the most forward-looking startups that we’ve seen at the Launch Festival so far. There might be a market for these kinds of foods in the future — not out of want, but out of need.